Claire Beale: Mendelsohn will bring renewed vigour to IPA
A view from Claire Beale

Claire Beale: Mendelsohn will bring renewed vigour to IPA

I must admit to some surprise last autumn when I heard Nicola Mendelsohn was being lined up to take on the IPA president's mantle from Rory Sutherland.

Rory has set the president's bar high, and brought a brilliant practitioner's insight to bear on the role. His legacy is a very practical one: behavioural economics, though perhaps a fashion that will transmute, has provided the industry with some very real learnings that have allowed agencies to be useful and effective for their clients in new and lucrative ways.

Mendelsohn, though, is not ingrained in the craft of advertising (and by that I don't just mean the creative craft, of course). She does not bring years of coal-face planning, creativity or account management to her new role (though, in fairness, neither have some of her predecessors). Mendelsohn is, rather, a smart and ambitious woman who would undoubtedly be successful in any other industry to which she chose to turn her hand. And may yet be.

So I wondered what she would bring to the IPA. By the time Mendelsohn stood up before her peers yesterday to set out her manifesto, what she brings became wonderfully clear: action.

She has an agenda that is firmly rooted in a realistic appraisal of the threats to advertising's status and an acknowledgement of the need to be, simply, better at everything in order to safeguard the industry's future.

It's quite remarkable that in the few short months since she was unveiled as the incoming president, Mendelsohn has managed to establish working parties with PACT and gaming content companies through UKIE to explore better collaborations and new revenue opportunities for the ad industry, as well as training partnerships with Google/Hyper Island and the BBC Academy.

So already Mendelsohn has proved her credentials for the president's job. And the IPA will end up all the better for choosing as its new president someone with a broader business view. Mendelsohn has a superb ability to get things done. Her almost unrivalled nous for networking is allied with a tireless focus that has allowed her to combine running the ad agency Karmarama, which she joined as a partner in 2008 and where she has already made a significant difference, with being a director of the Fragrance Foundation, a board member of Cosmetic Executive Women, chair of the Corporate Board of Women's Aid, mum of four young children and now the president of the IPA.

To accomplish all this, though, Mendelsohn will need the help of a brilliant IPA director-general. Hamish Pringle will be a very tough act to follow, but the ad industry needs a strong, focused and energetic IPA more than ever. Mendelsohn is a fantastic start.